The Tale of the Tape: Heavyweight Showdown Headed for Park Hills, KY @EddieEviston @Bluecolonels @pths_football @coachthomp9 @coach_marksbury @1776Bank @PrepSpin @KyHighFootball @kyhighs @HLpreps @840WHAS @sfitz_840whas @evans02_Mike @minguabeefjerky

Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer

Two 13-0, 4A football teams, Paducah Tilghman at Covington Catholic to provide plenty of fireworks

Both of these squads have been kicking butts and taking names all season long. The Blue Tornado has beaten opponents so badly this year several of the scores have made me wince. All the routing should be over come this Friday night as Goliath squares off against another Goliath. Who wins this game? Our staff and Senior Sports Writer, “Friday Night Fletch,” break it down like only we can.

HB Lyon, Scouting Director, KPGFootball

We are going to take our customary deep dive into this matchup and give you our best guess about the likely victor. If we don’t happen to pick your team, don’t despair, we were only right 91% of the time in the Regionals. Maybe this will be one of our nine percent wrong occasions.

There are factors which impact a high school outcome. We will take a look at those respective factors.

The Jimmies and the Joes

Both of these teams have excellent talent and loaded rosters. Paducah Tilghman has a couple 4-stars on its roster and we aren’t even talking about the QB (Jack James) who threw for 55-TDs this year and broke several of Hunter Cantwell’s old passing standards.

First for Paducah, QB Jack James. James, a ’25 guy, has completed a smidgen over 69% of his passing attempts (242/350). He has thrown for 3,831-yards and 55-TDs against only 4-INTs.

James can move around pretty well. He has rushed for 256-yards and six (6) TDs on 48-carries.

Covington Catholic will counter with Evan Pitzer. Pitzer is a ’24 and one of the more ballyhooed, dual threat guys in northern-KY. He has completed close to 73% of his passing attempts (155/213) for 2,508-yards and 32-TDs.

Pitzer is more of a ground threat than his counterpart. He has gained 513-yards and scored nine (9)-TDs rushing on the year. Pitzer is the team’s second leading rusher.

Paducah has Martels Carter. Carter is a 4-star safety/athlete who is a ’25. Carter runs a 4.36-second, laser-timed 40-yard dash and has approaching 50-FBS, Power-5 offers. Carter and JoeAvion Starks have both scored over 100-points for the Blue Tornado’s “high octane” offensive attack which has scored 674-points on the year, or close to 52-points a night.

Covington Catholic’s Lee Owen led the Colonels in scoring (78-points) with Willie Rodriguez lagging just a couple points behind. Covington Catholic has scored 561-points on the year (43-points a game) while allowing 183 (14-points a game). Paducah Tilghman has allowed the exact same number of scoreboard tallies as the Colonels (183-points).

Paducah’s most prolific rusher has been sophomore, Demarkus Wilson. Wilson has gained 1,031-yards on 126 carries and 14-TDs. The team has rushed for 147-yards per outing.

Covington Catholic has been a better rushing team on the year and against tougher competition. The Colonels have averaged 190-yards rushing a game. Catholic distributes the ball around quite a bit. The Colonels leading rusher is Lee Owen with 767-yards and 12-TDs.

Advantage: Paducah Tilghman (slightly)

The Schedules

On this there can be little debate. Covington Catholic has traveled a much more perilous path to 13-0 than has Paducah. This isn’t Paducah’s fault, there aren’t as good of teams in western Kentucky, on average, as there are in the northern Kentucky region. Sorry folks, just a fact.

The Colonels have beaten Ryle (6A Regional Finalist), Highlands (5A title contender and the Bluebirds only loss), Beechwood (2A title contender and the Tigers only loss), Ashland Blazer (tough 4A out and playoff team), Dixie Heights (5A playoff team, lost in round 2 to Highlands), and Johnson Central (Multi-time, 4A champion and accustomed to deep runs). The Blue Tornado’s toughest scheduling challenges have been from a Mayfield team which is the west’s equivalent of Beechwood (the two teams face each other Friday night in War Memorial in Mayfield), a 6A McCracken team which just got smoked out in the Regionals by Trinity with a running clock, and a Graves County team which exited the 5A playoffs on the short end of a 51-3 score to the Bowling Green “Purples.”

Advantage: Covington Catholic (significantly)

The “X’s” and the “O’s”

Eddie Eviston is widely considered one of the best football coaches in all of Kentucky. We can’t profess to know what he did, and where, prior to his present nine-year stint in Park Hills, KY; but we can account for those nine seasons.

Eviston has won 99-games, and lost 22, in his nine seasons, winning 5A championships in ’17, ’18, & ’19. He has yet to break through in 4A since being realigned, but there are those who believe this is his year.

Sean Thompson has performed impressively. Thompson is 27-14 at Tilghman in three (3) years with a 3A title game appearance in ’21 where a fumbled kickoff return may well have cost him a 3A state title. Prior to coming to Paducah, Thompson had a successful three-year stint at Crittenden County where he built the Rockets into a 1A, western-KY power.

Thompson was 28-8, overall, at Crittenden. His teams never advanced past the third round.

Advantage: Covington Catholic (significantly)

The Distance

If you don’t think having to jump on a bus to ride just 25-minutes shy of five hours and then get off that bus to play a 13-0, northern Kentucky power isn’t a factor to be considered; please, stop reading, listening to, or following this site. You don’t know enough about high school football to get very much from us.

It is 310.7 miles from Paducah to Park Hills. This would be a considerable factor regardless of which team was having to make this trip.

We would think the school, or alumnae/parents, at Tilghman would be chartering busses for this. If these boys are being asked to hop on a “yellow dog,” standard issue, school bus; drive four hours, 35-minutes; de-board and play; then the administration, and Blue Tornado faithful, deserve to get embarrassed.

Advantage: Covington Catholic (significantly)

The History

Both of these programs are among the winningest two programs in KHSAA history. Paducah has been around much longer than has Covington Catholic, which began competing in high school football around 1967.

Covington Catholic currently has around 400 or so wins. The Colonels have averaged in the 7.5-8.0 wins per season since it began play. On the other hand, The Blue Tornado, is the 4th-winningest team in KHSAA history with over 800-wins.

Tilghman has 8-undefeated seasons to its credit prior to this year. The two teams have played twice before with the Colonels winning both. The last time the two schools played was 1988.

Covington Catholic has an all time, postseason, win percentage of 73% and has won more titles. Both teams have won titles.

Advantage: Paducah Tilghman (slightly, almost a non-factor)

Our Take

Here is the bottom line, it will be tough for any team to travel a copious distance and have to beat Covington Catholic, in Park Hills, Kentucky this (or any) year. The same would be true if Catholic were having to travel to Paducah and handle the Blue Tornado in its back yard.

This is why there is so much importance attached to scheduling and the RPI. When you reach the semis, you want to play that match-up on your campus and not the opponent’s.

These teams are both excellently coached and very talented. No team, and we don’t really care who you played, gets to 13-0 without being an excellent, Kentucky high school football team.

Still, there will be a winner this Friday night in Park Hills, Kentucky and one of these two, fine teams will report to basketball practice. We like the Colonels in this one:

Friday Night Fletch Says: Covington Catholic 35, Tilghman 28

Thanks for playing!

This is Friday Night Fletch, reporting for KPGFootball, reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

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About Fletcher Long 1468 Articles
Two-time winner of Kentucky Press Association awards for excellence in writing and reporting news stories while Managing Editor of the Jackson (KY) Times-Voice

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  1. Friday Night Fletch picks the Semi-State Champions; and then there were four- @EddieEviston @Bluecolonels @pths_football @coachthomp9 @coach_marksbury @1776Bank @PrepSpin @KyHighFootball @kyhighs @HLpreps @840WHAS @sfitz_840whas @evans02_Mike @minguabee

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